Netiquette – Often-Overlooked Policy

"Netiquette" is the portmanteau for "network etiquette", or the do's and don'ts of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal "rules of the road" of cyberspace.  By establishing a formal netiquette policy, instructors are setting the ground rules at the start of the course without making assumptions about a student’s past online experience. Faculty are encouraged to develop netiquette rules in their course guidelines or you may freely use and adapt one of these examples for your course.  

Some Netiquette policies that are available for anyone to use or model on are:


Examples of Netiquette Statements for Online Courses


Example 1.  Refer to another source

Here is a link to a source for generally accepted network etiquette. Please review this material, be familiar with the core principles of netiquette and please follow these guidelines during the term of this course:

[insert link]


Example 2.  State your own policy

Rutgers University is committed to providing courses that meet the highest standards of excellence with the mission of preparing students to become productive members of society and good citizens of the world (University Code of Student Conduct, Rutgers University).  As such, students are expected to maintain a standard of conduct.  A challenge in the online classroom is understanding the meaning of communications without the visual and auditory clues from the speaker.   Netiquette provides some basic guidelines about how to behave in an online format, such as not using all capital letters online because that represents the vocal equivalent of shouting. In addition to these basics, please remember that this is an academic course where much of the work is taking place online. It is not the same as communicating with friends via social media, nor is it equivalent to sending text messages to friends or colleagues.  These guidelines below will help you reduce online miscommunications in this course. 

General Netiquette Rules:

  • Make the Connection.  Electronic communication (email, discussion forums, etc.) is how you share ideas with other participants in this course.  Online environments can separate the person from the ideas received in this course.  Remember, like you, someone is on the other side of an email or discussion posting.  Communicate with fellow participants as you would in a face-to-face course.  
  • Be Professional.  Your coursework is more than learning facts; you are preparing for a career.  You are learning to interact with your fellow course participants as you would in your future professional life.  Your conduct in this course should reflect this.  Your communication should follow standard rules for grammar and spelling (unless in an online chat) and be clear, concise and intelligent.  
  • Have Opinions.  Everyone is entitled to have an opinion.  In discussion forums, everyone is encouraged to share them.  
  • Respect Disagreement.  People have the right to disagree with you. However, disagreement should never be personal.  Online discussions are a means to share ideas and practice the skill of persuasion.  Persuasive speech cannot be achieved with hurtful, hateful or inappropriate language.  Review your posts before you publish and reread them for unintended meanings.  
  • Ask Questions.  Cultural influences can influence communication in terms of phrasing and word choice.  The lack of visual and auditory clues may affect meaning, as well.  Before jumping to conclusions, ask for clarification.  
  • Be Forgiving.  For the majority of participants, online communication is straightforward. Sometimes unintended meanings are conveyed. 

Specific Rules for this Course:

  •  During online chat sessions, there will be no penalty imposed for misspellings, sentence fragments or for employing commonly used chat acronyms - keyboard shortcuts.  As an instructor, I will use these references:
  • You will be graded on the work you do during this semester this includes your threaded discussions.  Your ideas and wording must be your own.   


Online behavior is not always perfect.  In fact it can venture into disrespectful and hurtful areas and needs to be addressed.  If you experience any questionable or outright inappropriate behavior from your fellow course participants, please let me know.

This Netiquette policy was adapted from Howard Community College’s Netiquette Statement and Virgina Shea’s The Core Rules of Netiquette.


Example 3.  Netiquette quiz or activity

Alternatively, faculty may use an online quiz/exam tool in their course learning management system to have students acknowledge important points of course and netiquette policies.  Questions based on examples may be incorporated as well.  Another activity is for students to create an online agreement with course participants at the start of the semester.